Health and Fitness

Dr. Mary K. Crow Named Physician-In-Chief And Chair Of Rheumatology At Hospital For Special Surgery

Hospital for Special Surgery announced that Mary K. Crow, M.D. has been appointed physician-in-chief and chair of the Division of Rheumatology. This appointment is effective as of April 1. Dr. Crow, who is an internationally recognized research scientist and a leader in the field of rheumatology and autoimmunity research and clinical practice, will bring her expertise to her new role at Special Surgery. Dr. Crow, who has been associate chief, Division of Rheumatology, and director of Rheumatology Research at Hospital for Special Surgery since 2001, succeeds Stephen Paget, M.D. Dr. Paget, who will become Physician-In-Chief Emeritus, will assume a new leadership role with responsibility for a wide range of educational and training endeavors as well as the further development of external support for the institution. In announcing this appointment, HSS President and CEO Louis A. Shapiro said, "Dr. Crow's prolific and profound scientific contributions to autoimmunity and rheumatology research and its translation to patients, coupled with her extraordinary leadership skills make her uniquely qualified for this key position.

Super-strong Collagen Created By UW-Madison Scientists

A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers has created the strongest form of collagen known to science, a stable alternative to human collagen that could one day be used to treat arthritis and other conditions that result from collagen defects. "It's by far the most stable collagen ever made, " says Ron Raines, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of chemistry and biochemistry who led the study, published in the Jan. 12 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, forming strong sheets and cables that support the structure of skin, internal organs, cartilage and bones, as well as all the connective tissue in between. For decades, doctors have used collagen from cows to treat serious burns and other wounds in humans despite the risk of tissue rejection associated with cross-species transplants. In 2006, Raines' team figured out how to make human collagen in the lab, creating collagen molecules longer than any found in nature.

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association AARDA Statement On The FDA Approval Of A New Treatment For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Friday, January 8, 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ACTEMRA® (tocilizumab), a new biologic response modifier for adult patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We are pleased with the FDA's approval of this new drug as it offers a promising new option available to those suffering from this debilitating autoimmune disease, especially those who have failed other forms of treatment. Of the more than 80 autoimmune diseases, RA is one of the most common and one of the more difficult autoimmune rheumatic diseases to control. It is a progressive disease that can affect many joints, most commonly the small joints of the hands. Inflammation and thickening of the tissue that lines the joints, which is the result of an autoimmune attack on the tissue, causes pain and swelling and, if left untreated or inadequately or improperly treated may progress to cause destruction of the bones, deformity and, eventually, disability. RA affects all ethnic groups with females 2.

Running In Shoes Stresses Hips, Knees And Ankles More Than Running Barefoot, Study

Researchers in the US who compared the effects on hip, knee and ankle joints of running barefoot versus running in modern running shoes, concluded that running in shoes exerted more stress on these joints compared to running barefoot or even walking in high-heeled shoes. The study was the work of lead author Dr D Casey Kerrigan, of JKM Technologies LLC, in Charlottesville, Virginia and colleagues from the University of Colorado and the University of Virginia, and was published in the December 2009 issue of PM&R: The journal of injury, function and rehabilitation. Knee osteoarthritis (OA) accounts for more disability in the elderly than any other disease, and although running has been shown to benefit health in many ways, including cardiovascular health, it can stress the joints in the leg, such as the hip, knee, and ankle. For the study, Kerrigan and colleagues recruited from the general population, 68 healthy young adults (37 women, 31 men) with no history of musculoskeletal injury and who regularly ran at least 15 miles a week in running shoes that are typically available in the shops.

Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Announces Initiation Of A Phase 2 Study Of SBI-087 For The Treatment Of Rheumatoid Arthritis RA

Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: TRBN) announced that its collaboration partner, Pfizer, has initiated a Phase 2 clinical trial of SBI-087 (PF-05230895) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). SBI-087 is a next-generation, humanized Small Modular ImmunoPharmaceutical (SMIP(TM)) protein therapeutic directed against the CD20 antigen. SBI-087 is also being evaluated in Phase 1 clinical trials for RA and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The Phase 2 multi-center, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel-group, outpatient dose regimen-finding study will enroll approximately 200 patients who meet the criteria for RA with American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Functional class I, II or III, are seropositive, and who have been diagnosed with RA more than six months before trial initiation. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive either placebo or one of four SBI-087 dosing regimens. This study is designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a dose and dosage regimen of SBI-087 in seropositive patients with active RA, who are on a stable dose of methotrexate.

FDA Approves New Drug For Rheumatoid Arthritis

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Actemra (tocilizumab) on Friday to treat adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis who have not adequately responded to or cannot tolerate other approved drug classes for rheumatoid arthritis. Actemra recommended use is limited to patients who have failed other approved therapies because of serious safety concerns that were noted in clinical studies. These safety concerns include elevated liver enzymes, elevated Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, hypertension, and gastrointestinal perforations. "Physicians and patients need to be aware of the risk of serious adverse effects of Actemra and make informed decisions regarding its benefits and risks in the treatment of individual patients, " said Bob Rappaport, M.D., director of the Division of Analgesics, Anesthetics and Rheumatology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. The FDA is requiring the sponsor to conduct a post-marketing clinical trial to further evaluate the long-term safety of Actemra.

Genetic Research Related To Disabling Form Of Arthritis

Work done in part by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston has led to the discovery of two new genes that are implicated in ankylosing spondylitis (AS), an inflammatory and potentially disabling disease. In addition, the international research team pinpointed two areas along stretches of DNA that play an important role in regulating gene activity associated with the arthritic condition. The findings, a critical milestone in the understanding of AS, are published in the January issue of Nature Genetics, a journal that emphasizes research on the genetic basis for common and complex diseases. "This helps us better understand what is driving this disease and gives us direction for new treatments and diagnostic tests, " said John D. Reveille, M.D., the study's principal investigator and professor and director of the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunogenetics at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Reveille, the university's Linda and Ronny Finger Foundation Distinguished Chair in Neuroimmunologic Disorders, and Matthew A.

Immune Responses To Tetanus Vaccine Unchanged For RA Patients On Rituximab

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University determined that immune responses to the tetanus vaccine were not changed when rituximab in combination with methotrexate (MTX) was compared with MTX alone in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Responses to a pneumococcal vaccination (Pneumovax® pneumonia vaccine), however, were reduced in RA patients with rituximab. Complete findings of this study are published in the January 2010 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RA affects 1.3 million adults in the U.S. (2005). RA patients may be at an increased risk of infection because of impaired immune function due to the disease as well as from the use of immunsuppressive medications. As a result, vaccinations against infections are an essential part of rheumatic disease management. How immunosuppressive agents alter the effectiveness of vaccines in RA patients was the focus of the clinical trial led by Clifton O.

Efficacy Of Flu Vaccine Drastically Reduced For RA Patients Treated With Rituximab

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients are partially protected by the influenza vaccine 6 - 10 months after treatment with rituximab. Researchers determined that while the flu vaccine is safe, it is ineffective for RA patients in the first 6 months following rituximab treatment. Previous influenza vaccination in rituximab-treated patients does increase pre- and post-vaccination titers, providing some defense to influenza strains. RA activity was not influenced by administration of the flu vaccine. Complete findings of this study are available in the January 2010 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology. RA, a common autoimmune disease, affects 4.6 million individuals worldwide and more than half of those diagnosed are woman, according to a 2000 report on global incidence by the World Health Organization (WHO). Patients with RA are immunocompromised, meaning their immune systems do not function normally, putting them at increased risk of infection.

FDA Approves ACTEMRA R tocilizumab For The Treatment Of Moderately To Severely Active Rheumatoid Arthritis

Genentech, Inc., a wholly owned member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ACTEMRA® (tocilizumab) for the treatment of adult patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who have had an inadequate response to one or more tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonist therapies. ACTEMRA is the first interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor-inhibiting monoclonal antibody approved to treat RA, and may be used alone or in combination with methotrexate or other disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). "The FDA approval of ACTEMRA marks a major step forward in the treatment of RA, providing a new option for patients with this very serious disease, " said Hal Barron, M.D., executive vice president, Global Development and chief medical officer, Roche and Genentech. "We are optimistic that working with the agency, we will be able to generate the additional data required to support approval in earlier lines of RA therapy and are committed to comprehensively characterizing both the clinical benefit and the safety of ACTEMRA in earlier lines of therapy through our large pharmacovigilance program, including the risk management program, and ongoing clinical and post-marketing studies globally.

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